Hand Hand Surgery Tendon Transfer Surgery Tendons

4 Reasons You May Need Tendon Transfer Surgery

Tendon transfer surgery is a procedure during which a tendon is shifted from its original attachment to a new one (see figure above). There are many reasons that this procedure may be necessary. Your hand surgeon will determine if this is the right surgery for you. Here are four potential reasons for tendon transfer surgery:

  1. Nerve Injuries: If a nerve is injured and cannot be repaired, it no longer sends signals to certain muscles, which paralyzes those muscles. This surgery can make those muscles work again. An example of this is a spinal cord injury.
  2. Muscle Injuries: If a muscle has been cut or broken and cannot be repaired, this surgery can help. A tendon can rupture due to something like Rheumatoid Arthritis.
  3. Disorder of the Nervous System: Sometimes, a disease may prevent nerve signals from being sent to muscles. Examples are cerebral palsy and a stroke. Tendon transfer surgery may help.
  4. Birth Defects: Sometimes, babies are born without certain muscle functions, and this surgery may bring back function.

As with all surgeries, tendon transfer surgery has risks. These can include infection and scarring. After the surgery, it usually takes about two months to heal. Discuss the risks and benefits of this surgery with your hand surgeon. Learn more about tendon transfer surgery on our website, and find a hand surgeon near you.

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  • Rebecca
    October 29, 2018 at 3:55 PM

    I am about to undergo tendon transfer from both forearms to bases of bilateral thumbs, left midthumb, left medial index finger due to ligaments and tendons too damaged from bicycle crashed to be used for repair. The surgeries will be 6 weeks apart. Is the recovery time for tendon transfers longer than tendon repairs, which I read is 12 weeks and up to 6 months for full recovery, or about the same? Thank you.

    • Benjamin Jacobs, MD
      October 30, 2018 at 10:07 PM

      Hello Rebecca,
      While I am obviously not familiar with the specifics of your problem, when my patients ask about recovery time I remind them that “recovery “ is different for everyone. It is fair to assume that you will be more recovered in 6 months than you’ll be in 6 weeks. Your surgeon must feel that the 6 week staging of surgeries gives you enough time to be ready for the second procedure. I always encourage people in these forums who have something like this planned to address any concerns with their surgeon so they can get more specific and accurate information about their particular procedure.

      • Rebecca Raynes
        November 1, 2018 at 4:23 PM

        Thank you, Dr. Jacobs..
        That was the only question I had failed to ask in my pre-op visit. Yesterday was the first surgery and my fantastic hand surgeon states there is no variability in recovery between using your own tendons/ligaments, and using transfers. Useful information, given I am an NP, and need to plan to go back to work when fully recovered, so I don’t have any setbacks.

  • July 5, 2018 at 3:08 AM

    Hi Mary,

    You can find information on tendon transfer surgery here: http://www.assh.org/handcare/procedures-and-treatment/Tendon-Transfer-Surgery

    You can also find a hand surgeon in your area by visiting http://www.findahandsurgeon.com

    ASSH Staff

  • Mary Glosik
    June 30, 2018 at 6:37 PM

    Could you please mail/e-mail info on tendon transfer. I had a stroke 2 years ago and my right hand, wrist and elbow was affected. Would I benefit from the procedure and where do I find a qualified surgeon? Thank you?

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